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News, US retaliatory attacks in Iraq and Syria, tension in the Middle East and more

The IDF carried out a coordinated lightning operation in Rafah to extract the hostages

Israeli forces coordinated a lightning ground and air operation on what they said were Hamas targets in Rafah to secure the release of the two hostages, according to Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari.

Hagari said during a joint recovery operation of the Israeli army, security forces and special police forces, the Special Police Unit, we found Louis Haar and Fernando Marman, who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 in Nir Yitzhak. Press conference on Monday. “There was air cover and a wave of attacks launched by the Israeli Air Force in cooperation with the Southern Command.”

Hajjari said the covert operation with extraction under fire began at 1:49 a.m. local time, and accompanying airstrikes began a minute later at 1:50 a.m.

He added, “At 01:49 am, special forces entered the building located in the heart of the city of Rafah.” “At 01:50, air cover initiated Air Force and Southern Command movements to allow forces to disengage and attack Hamas terrorists in the area.”

Hajari added that Israeli special forces “embraced the two hostages and defended them with their bodies” while they were being attacked by their captors, who were being held on the second floor of a building.

Hajri added that within minutes, the two hostages were taken under fire by Hamas fighters, and then transferred to a “safe place” inside Rafah to receive medical care. They were then transferred by helicopter from Gaza to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.

“They were deliberately detained in the middle of a civilian neighborhood, inside a civilian building, to try to prevent us from rescuing them,” he said in a later statement issued in English. “But we did.” He added, “This rescue mission underscores the importance of our ground operation in Gaza, including Rafah, when conditions permit.”

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Hagari also claimed that the “complex” operation had been planned for a “long time.”

“It was a very tense and exciting night,” he added.

Following Israeli air strikes on Rafah, the Palestinian Red Crescent also reported that more than 100 people were killed in the overnight attacks. It is believed that more people are still trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Translated by CNN's Michael Rosenblatt and Mike Schwartz. Additional reporting by Abeer Salman.